The ABMS Member Boards’ certification programs are rooted in the professional and educational standards set by ABMS and the boards for medical specialty certification and practice. The program involves two basic phases of assessment within a continuous process: initial certification and maintaining certification. Initial certification occurs soon after completion of residency training and is the beginning of a specialist’s personal commitment to professional excellence. Each ABMS board has identified what candidates must accomplish in order to be eligible for certification. Generally, this involves:
– finishing four years of premedical education in a college or university;
– earning a medical degree (MD, DO or other credential approved by the ABMS Member Board) from a qualified medical school;
– completing three to five years of full-time experience in a residency training program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME); and
– obtaining an unrestricted medical license to practice medicine in the United States or Canada.
Candidates for certification must then pass an exam created and administered by their specialty’s board. These exams are developed by Board Certified specialists and others who are subject experts in the specific area of medicine. Exams are developed against learning requirements which are extensively tested and refined over time. This is done to assure that the exam is a thorough, relevant, and fair assessment of a specialist’s medical knowledge, clinical judgment, and diagnostic skills. Candidates who have passed the exam and completed all other requirements are considered certified as a specialist and a diplomate of their specialty board.
A similar eligibility process is followed for certified specialists seeking subspecialty certification. Candidates must be certified by their specialty board, complete additional training during or after residency, and successfully complete assessments of knowledge and clinical judgment in their subspecialty discipline.